NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — One of Connecticut’s native sons is a big step closer to becoming a Saint. Father Michael McGivney was born in Waterbury and served most of his priesthood in New Haven. On Saturday, he will be beatified in Hartford.
One of his crowning achievements during his life was starting The Knights of Columbus — the largest Catholic fraternal charitable organization in the world. He started it with a small group of men in his church — St. Mary’s Church in New Haven.
Now, his vision of charity and helping others has ballooned to two million members worldwide.
A shrine, of sorts, of their good deeds now stands in New Haven — the Knights of Columbus Museum. On Sunday, it will have a new name. After a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 am, it will become known as The Blessed Michael McGivney Pilgrimage Center.
“His life, his vision, has touched people all around the globe,” said Peter Sonski, Manager of Education and Outreach. “And 130 years after his death, we are honoring him in a very special way.”
Sonski says the charitable works and good deeds of the Knights of Columbus will still very much be at the heart of the pilgrimage center because the group, which Father McGivney started at St. Mary’s Church in New Haven, has now ballooned to more than 2 million members worldwide.
At the new center, as Father McGivney inches closer to Sainthood, people will be able to see artifacts and artwork that will bring them closer to the man he was and how he chose to live his life helping others.
Sonski likens the experience to seeing how an ordinary man rose to do extraordinary things. He tells News 8 people will see that in one of the most priceless artifacts — the clothing Father McGivney was buried in.
“When people visit and see the simple ness of his clothing, they’re inspired by his humble life,” Sonski said. It’s probable that he had but one cassock. And we can see that this cassock was mended — it had been torn and was mended. And yet this was the cassock he was buried in. So, it indicates to me that he lived so simple a life that whatever means he had, he probably shared with others.”
Sharing with others is what defines the spirit of his creation — The Knights of Columbus. The pilgrimage center will still highlight much of their work.
The hope is, after his beatification on Saturday, people from around the world will want to come to New Haven to see where he served and to find out more about him. There is pride here that one of Connecticut’s native sons is so revered and got his foundation here.
“To have him elevated to the highest stage as being on the precipice of Sainthood is so thrilling,” Sonski said.
A ribbon cutting takes place Sunday at 10:30 a.m. The museum is at 1 State Street in New Haven.